Search for missing grandfather in Mt Hotham scaled back

After a week of searching snow-covered alpine terrain by police, volunteers and his children, the operation to find missing grandfather Christos has been scaled back, with no sign of the 70-year-old.

Christos, whose last name has not been made public, was last seen when he left his holiday accommodation to go for a walk to find emus last Friday afternoon on Big Muster Drive, Dinner Plain, near Mount Hotham.

Christos was last seen at Dinner Plain on Friday.Credit:Nine News

More than 100 volunteers, including some on horseback, joined the search for the missing grandfather in icy conditions.

Extreme weather hampered the search effort throughout the week. Temperatures in Mount Hotham fell below zero degrees on Tuesday. Wind gusts of more than 60 km/h and snow flurries made it harder and more dangerous for police and volunteers.

But no sign of Christos, a Yarra Trams employee, has been found and the search “had to be shifted”, police said in a statement on Saturday morning.

Inspector Paul Hargreaves updates the media about the search.Credit:Nine News

“Police coordinating the search have sought continual specialist advice in relation to the harsh alpine environment. The extreme conditions faced by someone lost in this harsh and unique alpine environment has shaped search efforts to date,” police said.

“Regardless of our continued and exhaustive search effort, Christos has not been located. We will continue to support and ensure ongoing welfare is provided to Christos’ family during this difficult time.”

Despite scaling back the operation, police said they would continue smaller-scale searches in the coming days.

“Officers will be maintaining a visible presence in the Dinner Plain area over the weekend, seeking information from the public about Christos and where he was last seen,” police said.

“Police acknowledge there will be a significant increase in tourism over the weekend in both Dinner Plain and Mt Hotham with many of these people walking, hiking, riding and sightseeing through searched areas.”

If any new information comes to light, the search will escalate accordingly.

On Wednesday, Christos’ family released a statement saying their “spirits remain high” that he would be located.

“Regardless of the condition he is in, we are desperate to find him for our family’s peace and closure. We just don’t have it in our hearts to walk away without him.”

Inspector Paul Hargreaves said police suspected Christos may have had an accident while walking as it would be difficult for someone to go missing if they had remained on the walking tracks.

Christos and his wife had been holidaying in the alpine region for three days before he went missing. He was wearing a long-sleeved top, long-sleeved jumper, pants and Crocs at the time of his disappearance.

Police urge anyone who sees Christos, or discovers any items or evidence that may help police to call triple zero (000) without delay. Non-urgent information should be reported to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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